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Daily Round-Up: Lucky 7! July 7th, 2011.

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7. 7. 7. 7. 7. 7. 7. Pretty good day for me too.

Anyway, off to the round-ups, you lucky people!

The Moment: Major ISPs give users “six strikes” for copyright infringements. It’s an interesting idea, and the move that everybody can really agree to. The idea is simple – Copyright holders will continue to look for copyright infringements on torrent sites and other sites on the Web. Major internet providers will continue to give their customers privacy so ISPs won’t have to supply copyright holders with information on copyright infringements unless the Court requires them to. In a meanwhile, copyright holders will “ping” ISPs with notice if they see users on the network downloading/uploading any copyrighted work without permissions. Users will get First and Second notice as a warning via e-mail that directs them to know more about the copyright issue. Users will get third and fourth notice the same way, except they will be in the more noticeable forms such as pop-up alerts. Fifth and sixth notice will bring “mitigation measures,” which include throttling, forcing violators to visit landing page that tells violators to settle the matter with the ISP and others. This doesn’t stop people from spoofing IP address, or jumping from ISP to another ISP to avoid any trouble with the violation. But if ISP can act in a reasonable way (they can’t cancel your internet service or prevent you from sending e-mails or consulting with doctors online so that’s a start), this can be a better way than suing the heck out of everyone to get money that they will probably never fully get to begin with.

“My Bold, Cold, Bald Picks”: This will increase piracy short-term, but will eventually lead to more reasonable relationships between content consumers and creators. Given that even reaching sixth strike has a light consequence, it’s not hard to imagine people moving more toward piracy since they don’t have to worry about getting sued by MPAAs and record companies. But in a more factual way, people who usually pirates software or contents separate into two groups: Those who actually buy a lot more content than those who don’t and those who are too poor to buy legal contents anyway. For the first group of people, one study revealed that people who pirates download 10 TIMES the amount of music downloaded by people who don’t pirate.  Piracy actually exposes people to more musics and artists, eventually pushing people to legally buy albums and singles of artists that they gave a listen via torrents.  For the second group of people, teens are main factors in piracy. It’s partly because they’re more tech-savvy but mainly because teens usually get a little allowance. A lot of teens have a very fickle musical taste and listen to songs that are “hot,” which changes almost every week. With little allowances that they have, they cannot buy all songs that they want to put on their iPods and iPhones. So what do they resort to? Piracy. Same thing applies to most of the contents that are pirated such as movies and games.

So, two groups of people who pirates are either those who will not buy legal contents, or those who already buy enough legal contents. This means content creators really have a little need to crack down on piracy. While I don’t advocate for the full-on legalization of piracy, relaxing on piracy probably will also cut the consumer backlash MPAAs and RIAAs of organizations get when they sue ordinary people for millions of dollars just because they uploaded couple songs.

Okay… running late here. Off to the links…:

Facebook Vibe seen, music service coming to Facebook? This really makes Facebook look like MySpace now.

Steve Ballmer will deliver CES 12 keynote. Perhaps with the sneak peek of Windows 8? Rumor says that Windows 8 will be  released next April anyway.

Apple loses “appstore” copyright lawsuit against Amazon. Judge declares Apples’ App Store not famous enough, or renowned, or prominent. App Store is not famous enough, and Kim Kardashian is?

Another Moment: Google Maps updated on Android, enables offline map viewing. Here goes TomTom and Garmin. (Maybe Garmin can try Nuvifone 2?)

Swype on iOS. Only if you are jailbroken. There’s a reason to try JailbreakMe.

iAD facing competition as competitors woo companies. Seriously though, million dollar fees to start iADs are way, way too high.

iPad HD coming this year, with Final Cut Pro and Aperture? I don’t know how fingers can do sensitive image editing work? Maybe they will have Mighty Mouse compatible with iPad soon? (iPad in Eee Pad Transformer form would be awesome, actually)

Virgin Mobile’s $ 25 unlimited data/text, 300 minutes plan will have a price hike to $ 35. Still one of best deals you can get if you’re using a smartphone. Especially when a competitive plan for Verizon costs close to $ 130.

App Store hits 15 billion downloads, and $ 2.5 billion given to developers. Android Market just hit 5 billion last week, so there’s your bar right there, Android.

Government arrests 15 people from Anonymous. Five of them are under 18. That’s some hot young IT prospects right there… In a meanwhile, AntiSec is hacking more organizations. This hacking spree just won’t stop!

Sony will include “PSN Pass” in first-party games, which links PSN account with the game CD. This bans people who bought used CDs to play online games, although I’m pretty sure people will find a way.

Investors accuse RIM of using the split of CEO/Chairman as a “stall tactic” to prevent them from suggesting more changes. The company is falling apart on the outside and on the inside.

In brief: Toshiba Thrive in stock for $ 430Verizon already controls 32% of iPhone 4 data usage in the U.S….Xoom may get Android 3.2 which nobody knows what it is (Ice Cream Sandwich should be 4.0)…SpongeBob Twitter Adventure! More cheaper iPhone rumorApple releasing Lion on July 14th?..2Pac Albums on iTunes!

Deals:

Unlocked HD2 for $ 260, EVO 4G for $ 30 at Radio Shack… Fallout New Vegas for $ 10 at Best Buy…Fieldrunners HD for Android free on Amazon…FIFA 11 for $ 24, NCAA Football 12 with $ 20 gift card for $ 57 at Amazon…

4000 XBox Live points along with your Windows Phone for a penny…Samsung Bluetooth handset for $ 4 after $ 20 rebate…Refurbished Sandy Bridge Dell XPS desktop with 8GB of RAM, i7 CPU, and Radeon HD 5770 for $ 649…

 

Happy 7/7 day and good night!

 

 

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Daily Round-Up!: July 6th, 2011

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Long time, no see! Round-up is back! I’ll try to keep round-ups going forever and ever and ever… alone. (Give me a moment as I quiver in the corner and cry)

The Moment: HTC (Sort of) buys S3 Graphics for $ 300 million. The important thing to consider here is that HTC and VIA, which had a joint venture with S3 Graphics, are owned by the same owner. Also, HTC chairperson, Cher Wang, is a major shareholder of S3 Graphics. But as symbolic as this move can get, it’s significant.

Although it’s far from final (the final decision is scheduled to come November), initial ruling from ITC ruled that Apple has been infringing on two of S3 Graphics’ patents. This, itself, can stop the sale of Apple’s iPhones and iPads in the U.S. But this buyout further increases the importance of ITC’s ruling if ITC rules against Apple.

As many know, HTC has been in a lawsuit with Apple for more than a year, with no end in sight. There was an initial complaint filed by Apple, who sued HTC for violating 20 patents such as “unlocking a device by performing gestures on an unlock image” (think “swipe to unlock”). And there was a counter suit filed by HTC, accusing Apple of violating five patents. Administrative judge Carl Charneski will make his decision on those initial lawsuits on the August 5th, which is also the date that Apple requested a hearing for preliminary injunction against Samsung (What a busy day!). While it’s unlikely that those patents from S3 Graphics will factor into lawsuits yet, given that the HTC/S3 merger have to be approved by the Taiwan government, it can create a further ground for more counter suits by HTC. HTC can use those patents to defend against Apple’s lawsuit if the case stretches any longer.

Obviously, what most people and I think is that Apple will eventually sign cross-licensing agreements with every manufacturers that it has sued, so this buyout may even provide a better negotiation table for HTC if Apple drops its lawsuits.

There’s also a matter of HTC paying Microsoft $ 5 for every HTC Android handsets sold, but that’s for an another day… (Have you heard Microsoft is now requesting Samsung to pay $ 15 for every Android handsets they sell? Microsoft is either crazy, or scary)

Now, off to the links…

Another iPhone 5 rumor. Thinner and lighter. Zzzzzzzz. 25 million iPhone 5 may ship this year. Zzzzzzzz. By the way, second and third generation of iPod Touch were 8.4mm thin. Do you think iPhone 5 can be even thinner than that? iPhone 4 is only 9.3mm thin.

Now you can jailbreak your iPad 2 on your Mobile Safari! I’m pretty sure people will do useful stuff with jailbreaking. Like I don’t know, widgets?

iPhone 5 may come to Sprint. At least one analyst says so. I bet I can pay an analyst $ 1000 to say that  iPhone 5 may come to Metro PCS.

iPad 2 Plus, with a better display, may launch this year. Given that “retina” display on tablets are not even on the caliber of “retina” display on smartphones, not to mention much higher graphics processing power required to power a such high-resolution display, I doubt this improve the user experience greatly.

Xoom 1 has been out for four months. Cue the Xoom 2 rumor! Now on FCC!

Droid 3, with its Atrix spec and a 5-row keyboard, may launch with $ 460 unlocked price. Given that Droid 2 sells close for $ 370 unlocked on Amazon, this is a very good deal if the leak is true… In a meanwhile, rounder Droid Bionic!

Speaking of Amazon, those with a paid Cloud Drive subscription will get a “limited time” to get unlimited storage for their music. Given how long it take to even upload 5 GB of music, I don’t know how long it would take to upload 100 GB of my music.

WTO finds that China is violating WTO law because the country put a cap on export of rare metal. I don’t know China follows those kind of rules.

iBooks may push iTunes revenue to $ 13 billion by 2013. Wait, I thought Kindle was still leading.

Lastly… Facebook partners with Skype to bring video chat to Facebook as well. So, no more need for ooVoo or other desktop video chat apps, right? Facebook is definitely trying to bankrupt lot of companies. Oh, also, new group chat features and an updated chat UI. Hopefully video chat comes to mobile Facebook apps as well… But, of course, we have seen all this before. (If anybody has a Google+ invites that they can give out, please contact me)

Deals:

Spotify comes to US. Get your invites… NOW!

Taco Bell.. Free WiFi and in-store TV! Now I can stop go to McDonald for my WiFi fix.

 

Free Power Rangers SMASH app for your iPhone! Evo 3D for $ 113 on WireFly! Droid Incredible 2 for a penny!

 

Wi-Fi Xoom at $ 499…16GB of DDR3 Ram for $ 120! 4GB refurbished MP3 player for $ 25! 

Last day to lock up your unlimited plan for Verizon. Good luck with that (for those on East Coast, too bad!) and Good night!

 

 

Written by Geek Park

July 6, 2011 at 7:50 PM

Daily Round Up – June 29th, 2011!

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I’ll have my 2 cents editorial coming tomorrow… Sorry, have been quite a busy day. But now, off to the round-up!

The Moment: This was posted on Engadget just minutes ago, but it definitely warrants a mention. IBM Develops “instantaneous” memory, memory that’s 100 times faster than flash memory such as RAM and is cheap enough to be used even in our smartphones. The memory will use a different kind of phase change memory, which has been in a development stage for more than five years and is based on alloys that change their states from crystalline to amorphous and vice versa when controlled by the electricity. Memory will also be durable as well, staying reliable for millions of read/write cycles instead of thousands. While single alloy cell can hold only one bit of data, new alloy cell used in the memory will hold four bits of data, which means more storage can be put into those memories and less latency. In fact, 100 times faster is the worst-case scenario for those memories, which means in normal usage we should be getting speed more than 100 times faster than how fast our RAM or hard drive performs. The memory, according to IBM at least, should also enable us to turn on our computer instantaneously and to not lose our data when computer crashed or turned off. The memory should be available for sale within the next five years.

My Cold, Hard, Bald Predictions: Since I’m not a scientist or engineers for that matter, it’s hard for me to weigh on in this. However, this may signal, coupled with Window 8’s Metro UI, laptops and desktops moving further toward smartphones and tablets, only with bigger screens and keyboards. I can also see the cloud computing becoming much more enterprise-friendly, although Google Docs have done a good job of introducing businesses to the cloud, as this will likely make storage for data center/servers more efficient.

Now, to the links…

Google + users now can send out invites! Hooray… I really could use a Googler friend now.

Microsoft signs the patent deal with Velocity Micro, allowing Microsoft to be paid for every Android handsets Velocity Micro sells. Considering Microsoft makes more money from HTC’s Android department than the entire Windows Phone 7 department, I’m not surprised that Microsoft is doing this.

Windows Phone 7.5, also known as “mango,” is available to developers now

Roku 2! It’s smaller and has a reset button… and that sounds about it for changes.

Two WebOS news (I’ll have a meat-review of TouchPad on Sunday): HP considers licensing WebOS to other manufacturers. Galaxy Tab hardware with WebOS would make a great combination. HP also gives out a $ 50 discount to 32GB $ 599 version of TouchPad to those with Pre, Pixi, or Pre/Pixi Plus. $ 50 discount still makes it barely $ 549, $ 50 more expensive than Asus Transformer for that matter.

Angry Birds on Windows Phone 7 for $ 2.99. With this, Microsoft shows Windows Phone 7 is not the phone to save you from all phones.

HTC Status for AT&T, also known as ChaCha or “Facebook phone,” is released with 800mhz CPU, 2.6 inch screen and 5 megapixel camera. Reminds me a lot of Flipout actually. (Although Status has double the pixel of Flipout)

Delkin releases World’s fastest SDXC card with 45 Mbps (that’s about 6 megabytes per second for you and me) write speed and 95 Mbps (about 12 megabytes per second) read speed. Of course, it costs $ 540. FYI, Sandisk sells 64GB SDXC card, albeit with 15 Mbps read speed, for $ 107.

Google Talk video chat available for T-Mobile 3G and 4G network, although Fring and Qik had this a long time ago.

Kaz Hirai will become Sony Computer Entertainment chairman, and Andrew House will be the new CEO. What’s the difference of chairman and the CEO again?

Nokia’s several handsets with new version of Symbian – known as Symbian Belle – are leaked. Too bad that Nokia already has the grand plan only involving Windows Phone 7. 

Samsung Conquer 4G, with Hummingbird processor and 3.5 inch display as well as a front-facing camera, is a pretty good budget 4G device from Sprint. Although carriers should really stop shoving 4G labels into every phones? What’s next, a 4G feature phone? Wait…

Apple releasing iPhone 3GS unlocked version in India for $ 444, which is still more expensive than original Galaxy S phones. Analyst says Apple will offer a free iPhone 3GS after the iPhone 4S/5 release. iPhone 3GS do beat the crap out of Optimus One line of phones.

PlayLater lets you DVR any websites in case the video expires or is taken down by the content provider. It costs $ 50 a year or $ 5 a month. Don’t know if it can compete with the Netflix’s $ 8 a month streaming movies and tv shows plan.

EA is apparently blown away by Wii U’s performance, since it’s estimated to be about 50% faster than XBox 360 or PS3, it’s no surprise really. Although when PS4 or XBOX 720 develops….

Taiwan touch panel makers are estimating that Amazon will place an order for about 1.5 million – 2 million tablets in the second half of this year. Amazon, launch cheap and you can be big.

EVO 3D may head to T-Mobile as FTC document shows EVO 3D with T-Mobile AWS bands. Considering that T-Mobile already has the Sensation, which is non 3D-version of EVO 3D, I doubt that we’ll see EVO 3D on T-Mobile.

Hackers’ next target? Al Qaeda! I wonder whether hackers are making deals with the government. Imagine something like “hack Al Qadea, and we won’t punish you for hacking Sony.”?

Co-founder of Twitter, Biz Stone, is also leaving the Twitter. Are they not seeing any hope in the company turning in profits?

T-Mobile will get rid of Even More Plus, a contract free plan, and replace with the “Vaule” Plan. Considering that 2GB data costs $ 10 a month on this plan (and 5GB for $ 25), this sounds very attractive to those with heavy data usage. Although with this plan, you do have to sign a contract AND pay a full price on the phone.

Couple MySpace news… Specific Media buys MySpace for $ 35 million and cuts staff by 50%. $ 35 million is about 10% of what MySpace was valued at when it was bought by Murdoch’s News Corp in 2005… and about 0.3% of its value at the peak on 2007. And on a lighter news, Justin Timberlake, who starred in the “Social Network” as an advisor for Facebook and the creator of Napster, becomes MySpace’s creative director, aiming to bring sexy back to MySpace apparently.

In brief: ThinkPad Tablet shown off… in Brazil? LTE Galaxy Tab 10.1 available for a pre-order from VerizonZTE Blade, a budget Android device, sells 2 million units, even exceeding iPhone’s sales for some time.Android app downloads now at 4.5 billion, which is about half the number achieved by Apple’s App Store ...Consumer Watchdog asks FTC to investigate Facebook credits, saying they violate the antitrust lawMore people spend time on the Internet updating Facebook/Twitter/etc than watching Porn nowRegular Macbook may get a refreshRevenue from mobile app stores expected to reach $ 14 billion in 2012, $ 40 billion in 2015Intel increases its lead in the CPU area, with 82.6% market share, AMD with 10.1%Acer is planning to launch a slider table this yearAsus will launch a Meego netbook for $ 200 after JulyAMD will phase out some Phenom/Athlon processors, including high-end six-core CPUs, to make a room for bulldozer/LianoAT&T partners with Zynga, Farmville soon causes you to drop calls…Droid HD appears...Samsung files an another useless ITC complaint, aiming to shut down iPhone and iPad sales

Now, off to the deals…

GTX460 for $ 140 after rebate! Thinkpad X220 without OS for $ 710! 600 Watt power supply AND DVD-burner for $ 45 after rebate! and more…

For the latest quad-core Liano laptop with Blu-ray and Radeon HD 6750M for $ 679 with $ 100 Gift card from Best Buy! 15-inch Sandy Bridge laptop for $ 400! AMD CPU + Motherboard combo starting at $ 100 from Microcenter! and more deals on computer hardwares…

Unlocked Pixi Plus for $ 50 ! LG Revolution (4G phone from Verizon) for a penny! Add 300 minutes to your Sprint Everything Data 450 plans! and more deals on cellphones…

Also, 99 cents deals on movies from DISH network during the Independence Day!

And I leave you off with this…:

 

 

 

 

 

Daily Round-Up: Evening Edition, June 28th, 2011.

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Let’s begin… with “THE MOMENT:”

 

 

Google just launched Google+ (as well as its Android app) today and it’s something that can definitely compete with Facebook. The primary selling point is its “Circle” feature, which is like Facebook’s group feature but done in a more user-friendly and less time-consuming way. Google also integrated RSS feed/Google Reader with the “Spark” feature, which allows sharing an easy task. One feature that’s not on Facebook is the “Hangout” feature, which is basically like a UStream integrated into Skype. It enables you to video chat with your followers while other users can watch the video chat and add their own comments on the chat area. Mobile web apps are available for iOS and Android, while native app is available for Android only for now. (For more, check Engadget’s hands-on)

It seems like the point of Google+ is to integrate Google’s many social features such as Google Reader, GMail, and Google Buzz as well as Google Talk into the one, unified, elegant system. UI, from the looks of it, looks elegant and easy to use which is unbelievable for Google’s products (Google did hire an original Mac designer) and despite its “beta” label, Google+ seems to work without a hitch.

“The Prediction”: The question remains, will anyone move away from Facebook? Despite that it’s losing some users in the U.S., Facebook has 750 million users, which makes Facebook third-biggest country in terms of population. You can argue that MySpace was unassailable as well but MySpace only had about 200 million users at its peak in 2008. Facebook has entered our pop culture lexicons (partly due to the excellent movie “Social Network”) and remains as a pop culture phenomenon even seven years after its launch. Do I think Google have what it takes? Absolutely. The UI is elegant and Google did everything that it really can (short of stealing everyone’s private data). But do I think people will move away from addicting Facebook? That’s really an impossible thing to do with all the Facebook games and apps that bites off our precious time  (I doubt we’ll see Farmville for Google +) not to mention that there’s more people on Facebook than on GMail (which has around 200 million users) .

Now for the evening round-up of links and news…:

Android landline phone launching in South Korea. Umm… finally?

Another analyst says 30 million iPads will be sold this year. With shortages of supplies, I don’t know whether that’s believable. BTW, that’s about double the number of all Macs that the analyst predicted will be sold in this year.

Apple becomes the biggest buyer of memory according to iSuppli. Second? HP.

Google Takeout, another service launched without much fanfare, ables you to grab data from various websites at once

iOS is more secure than Android according to Symantec. But hey, Android is more secure than the PC!

Half a million Android devices are activated daily, 66% increase over the span of 6 months.

Anonymous, who call themselves as “Legion,” hacks Universal Music and Viacom. Seriously though, people who suffered the most during PSN hack were you and me. Don’t we all want this to stop to prevent any more of OUR information from leaking? Where’s the government?

In Brief: Sony’s CEO Sir Howard takes a 16% pay cutGoogle hires prosecutor in the Microsoft antitrust case to defend against antitrust allegations‘Apollo’ will be the codename for WP7 release after the release of ‘Tango‘ (FWIW, my next guess for the Android codename after Ice Cream Sandwich is “jellybeans”)…Verizon rejecting all Gingerbread updates to Motorola devices because Motorola makes Awful, Awful updates?

 

GOOD NIGHT!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Geek Park

June 28, 2011 at 10:27 PM

Daily Round-Up!: June 28, 2011 – Afternoon Edition

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Here’s all the links, news and rumors you need to get through the end of your day.

Consumer Report says T-Mobile’s G2X beats iPhone 4 in camera testing. I guess it’s time for “Consumer Report is biased!” or another improved-camera on the  iPhone 5 rumor. FWIW, Atrix and Thunderbolt also bested iPhone 4 in the same test as well.

Microsoft Office 365, which is a workplace version of Microsoft Office Web Apps, launches at the rate of $ 6 ~ 27 a month, which is much more than $ 0 that Google charges for Google Docs. You can look at comparisons of two products here.

Google + revealed! Circles! Squares! Groups! Apps! Yay! Google also tries its hand at unifying its expansive product portfolio with wdyl (What do you love?)

Upgrades Vaio Z costs $ 1,899… And we thought Samsung Series 9 (at $ 1,500) was expensive.

Dish buys Terrestar, company that went bankrupt about a month after releasing its FIRST smartphone.

Windows Phone 8 to be named Tango? No hardware buttons (which seem to be a trend, BTW) in Mango phones? (Well, you do need the power button… Only way you can turn on the phone without the button involves unicorn tears and extra magic)

DRAM prices are falling by the wayside, dropping 6% this month. In a meanwhile, DDR3 will remain a leading standard for RAM for three more years, iSuppli reports so no worry, upgraders..

Apple releases $ 49 Thunderbolt data transfer cable. USB 3.0 Data transfer cable, FYI, costs $ 4.

Upgrade to Motorola’s XPRT/Droid Pro coming soon, with Gingerbread?

Glasses-free 3D for $ 179! Hooray! Wait, but 3DS cost $ 249 and can do much more than this PMP… but this PMP does have a great 8-inch screen.  Interest for 3DS has declined by 27% in the course of a year, BTW.

Google to face a 295 million euro (that’s $ 422 million) lawsuit over anti-competitive practices. That’s a huge chunk of money for me and you, but a small chunk of money for Google which has close to $ 6 billion on hand

 

 

 

Can Pac 12 create a Web-based network partnered with Google (Google’s owners are Stanford grads) or Apple?

12% of U.S. population has an e-reader while 8% of U.S. population has a tablet; 3% have both. Surely the low price point of Kindles and Nooks contributed. But does Nook Color count as an e-reader or a tablet? 

Windows 8 manufacturing by April? Time to upgrade again, I guess…. Here’s Microsoft’s big push toward the tablet market

NVidia announces GTX 570M and 580M, which will be included in Alienware’s M18x as well as MSI GT780R. Both has Optimus, which means you can surf the Web for five hours even with those power-munching graphic cards. I’m pretty sure the price of laptops with those GPU’s will be somewhere around eleventy billion.

In brief: Gameloft releases its second-half 2011 lineup, still filled with copy-catsNook Color gets location-aware Angry Birds, beating Nokia, although Angry Birds for Nook Color still costs $ 3…FCC says wireless industry is competitive, guess that it didn’t see Verizon’s new tiered data plans….Google Testing Flash to HTML5 converter called Swifty, although it won’t convert Flash games or videos as much of HTML5 proponents would’ve hoped for Opera with Ver. 11.5, without those lovely potato ads (will benchmark Opera 11.5 against Chrome 12 soon)… Thunderbird 5 launches with Tab-dragging, add-ons management and other enhancements.

For your deals of the day…: Sensation unlocked for $ 479! Droid Charge for $ 129 for new customers! (originally $ 299)

ASUS Transformer 32GB + Earphones + 8GB Micro SD Card for $ 499! 8GB RAM for $ 45 After rebate! Noise canceling headset for $ 10!

Galaxy Tab 32GB for $ 529, $ 70 off! Viewsonic GTablet for $ 250 on Woot!

If deals are not on the page, go to the next page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Geek Park

June 28, 2011 at 4:00 PM

Why Don’t Google Marry Amazon?

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Google perfectly complements Amazon, so why don't they work together?

I stumbled onto a Wikipedia page of the movie called EPIC 2014. In this movie, released just seven years ago, term “Googlezon” was coined. Word came from a fictional merger of Google and Amazon in the alternative universe, done to to create an ultimate product recommendation tool developed by user’s search queries. In this alternative universe, there’s nothing that can slow Googlezon, not even Supreme Court and New York Times. The company eventually releases the tool called “Epic” in the year of 2014, hence the title of the movie. The tool stores user’s reading habits, demographics, and political preference (supplied by users themselves, with Googlezon paying each user) to deliver news best tailored to user’s needs. Eventually, online version of New York Times collapses, with NY Times staying solely as print newspaper “for the elderly.”

Why am I mentioning Googlezon? Because as Google and Amazon infringe more on each other’s business, I feel like those companies should cooperate, instead of compete, with each other to develop whole Android ecosystem. By developing the ecosystem filled with contents and integrated natively to smartphones and tablets, Google and Amazon have a chance of taking down what amounts to be Apple’s last trump card, flawless iTunes integration to iPhone, iPad, and iPods.

Smartphone manufacturers, hoping to develop their own content service to further distinguish themselves from the rest of the pack, already jumped into content delivery business. Samsung has its Media Hub for Galaxy S devices, and HTC has done a nice job of making Android version of Netflix available only on its devices (Nexus S excepted), even though it’s likely to be for very short time, along with HTC Watch for Sense 3.0 devices. Motorola signed a deal with Blockbuster all the way back in 2009, and Blockbuster apps are available on its Droid line of device as well as Atrix 4G. Yet, no service has managed to gain any kind of success in the market now. As much as they try, no smartphone buyers even factor in Samsung’s Media Hub or Motorola’s Blockbuster app into their smartphone buying decisions.

In a meanwhile, Netflix has been a killer app for iOS devices while Apple rents more than 500,000 movies/TV-shows a day, earning about $ 400 million a year according to estimates. More than million people bought HBO Go for iOS and Android in its first week. Video streaming services can be and are successful. It’s just that Android smartphone manufacturers and Google failed to get any contents that can lure people to use their services ($ 2.99 a day for movie rental didn’t help either).

So when Google finally released movie rental service for Android, there was certain expectation that Google finally may come up with something that can compete with the iTunes and Amazon. However, when I heard the announcement, it was just “meh”. When I saw the actual store, alas, I was even more disappointed. Movies were relatively expensive (to be fair, competitive with iTunes). Beside few featured movies, movies were also old and obscure. While other rental stores also share similar problems (infamous 90-day window for Neflix comes to my mind) I felt like Google Movies is more lacking than industry titans Google is trying to compete with. It already shows in numbers, with Amazon having 10x amount of movies in its rental store than Google Movies. With Netflix timely launching in Android devices, Google Movie’s tauted ability to watch rented movies anywhere without syncing simply banished as well, as I can watch Netflix anywhere from my PS3 to iPad and Google TV. So, even as Google Movie is trying to take off, the service already faces a quantitativeness challenge from Amazon and iTunes, and cost as well as technological challenge from Netflix.

When I tried to find Social Network, all I saw was bunch of B-movies.

Google Music is more promising than Google Movies, with an ability to store 80GB of songs and all (I’m hoping that I can get the invite soon so I can get some hands-on time). While it’s highly unlikely that the user can upload 80GB of songs given how slow upload process is, its offline playback feature and interface do look intuitive and highly user-friendly. However, Amazon Cloud Drive did launch a couple of months earlier, and it features enough features that can persuade people to choose Amazon over Google Music. Amazon has its own MP3 store, so if I chose to, I can buy MP3s from Amazon (and they have some great deals) and sync it right to Amazon Cloud Drive. It’s also a bonus that songs that you buy from Amazon don’t count toward the 5GB limit, practically allowing unlimited storage if you buy songs only from Amazon. Amazon Cloud Drive is also a multi-platform software, working both on Android and iOS now. Although Google Music has a pretty cool tool that imports every songs you buy from iTunes, songs with Apple DRM and lossless files don’t work as well as songs from Amazon (you have to do it manually). Sure, iTunes still hold a massive lead over Amazon, but as Android phone manufacturers further embrace Amazon and iPod sales decline, this may arise as a problem in couple years or so. For many with iPod Touch and Android phone combination (or an Android phone and an iPad), multi-platform nature of Cloud Drive also helps, as one can literally listen “anywhere, on any device,” which Google Music can’t.

Google is trying its hands at content delivering process, perhaps to combat iTunes, but the products introduced simply don’t live up to hype, and falls behind what Amazon and Apple offers. The fundamental difference between those companies lies in that Amazon and Apple have a long experience in delivering contents, while Google is a relative newcomer. So even though Google is trying to outwork Amazon and Apple, that fundamental difference and Google’s beta approach to everything it does eventually lead to Google’s failure to even staying competitive with Amazon and Google, just as with Google’s repeated attempts to enter social networking area.

Amazon, in a meanwhile, is getting its feet wet in hardware business. Kindle has been a huge success, and Jeff Bezos practically admitted that there will be an Amazon tablet out this holiday season, based fully on Android. What we’re seeing is Google trying to make a move to create one-stop content delivery market, which Amazon is more familiar with, while Amazon is trying to develop its own ecosystem based on Android, space that Google is more familiar with. So the question is, why are both companies trying to approach areas where they are not familiar with, when they can simply choose to complement each other in the areas that each is lacking in?

The goal that both are looking for it is ironically the same, to create perfect competitor to iTunes that can nullify Apple’s trump card. Both companies look to be the first one that develops the ecosystem. The truth is that both companies lack an aspect of ecosystem that Apple worked long to develop. Google lacks any kind of knowledge in content delivering business, as shown with the failed negotiation with labels to develop music store. While Amazon has tasted a success in hardware manufacturing device with Kindle, it lacks an ability to natively integrate its software to the OS, as Apple has done with iTunes and iOS. But if two companies worked together (I’m not suggesting a merger in any way aka. Googlezon, I am just looking for a partnership), they can fill what each other is missing. And with Amazon’s content natively integrated with Android, two companies finally can get a chance to develop the ecosystem that natively integrates content delivery to the operating system. Also, just as what Apple has done with the iTunes, Google can fully set up its “Googlezon” service as the entertainment store for Android. With even more content  and cheaper price than what iTunes has, I think Android users will take a look at Googlezon with the right marketing. When those users are persuaded enough to fully ditch iTunes in support of Googlezon and think Googlezon=Android as many iOS users think iTunes=iOS, I think Google and Amazon, after years and years of effort to beat iTunes, can finally beat iTunes in market share and show themselves as the market leader.

Written by Geek Park

May 14, 2011 at 3:27 PM

Google i/o Day 1!

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See the liveblog here for more details.

What a day it was! We saw everything from newest generation of Android (from cellphones and tablets to… exercise machine?), launch of Google Music and Movie (Finally!), and ongoing move to tackle the ever-growing fragmentation head-on. Stay with us as we go over highlights from Day 1 of Google i/o 2011.

Best Moment: When Google went Oprah and gave away 5,000 Galaxy Tab 10.1.

 First: Android’s monstrous growth.

400,000 activations daily, adding up to more than 140 million activations a year! 100 million devices already activated just in two and a half-year (Oh, how I miss G1)! 4.5 billion Android apps downloaded already and 200,000 Android apps in Android Market! Just amazing how fast Android grew in one and a half-year after the launch of Droid.

Second: Honeycomb 3.1 and Ice Cream Sandwich… 3.2?

Android Ice Cream Sandwich

Seriously, we have no idea what version number Ice Cream Sandwich will be.

While ICS is not launching until this fall, updated version of Honeycomb is already getting pushed into Verizon Xooms (about 250,000 of them). Updated version includes expandable widgets (like one in LauncherPro),  improved performances (so hopefully, no more lags) and an ability to accept numbers of USB devices from XBox controller to just your regular flash drive. This makes all the effort done by Asus to integrate USB into its Eee Pad Transformer basically useless (Although Transformer not recognizing USB devices sometimes, maybe it’s a good thing that Google stepped in). You can see all the features in action right here.  Also, Google announced that it will update Google TV software from FroYo to 3.1 version of Honeycomb, with simplified UI (and hopefully a full Market support). With Honeycomb designed to enhance Android experience in big screen, I think Google made a very good move here.

While Honeycomb received pretty major updates, Ice Cream Sandwich basically looks mouth-watering. Features added are very “Minority Report” like, with devices now recognizing movement of your faces (ala. Kinect). This enables one to simply zoom in and zoom out by moving one’s face around. While other features still remain unknown, Ice Cream Sandwich will be pushed into both smartphones and tablets. Google promise that apps written for Ice Cream Sandwich will support both tablets and smartphones without any need of optimization, but we’ll see how Google deliver on that promise. But Apple said that too for the iPad. (You can see all the Ice Cream Sandwich action right here)

Also, big promise to tackle fragmentation as members of Open Handset Alliance and major manufacturers of Android devices (from HTC to Samsung, although Dell and Asus are notable exceptions) promise to deliver software updates up to 18 months after launch of new device. While there are questions remaining (which we’ll try to ponder in the editorial coming very soon), this is a great move to stop “will my devices get updated?” questions and Behold II debacles.

Third: Google Music and Movies

Google is launching cloud-based music player and movie rental service. Google Music Beta, as it’s called, will allow you to stream up to 20,000 songs in the cloud (ala. Amazon Cloud Drive, albeit with more storage), with songs playable in computers, Android devices and even Blackberry Playbook. It also enables offline caching so you can hear songs even when you’re not in 3G area (or if you have a WiFi-only devices). Google Movie, available now in Xoom and in 2 weeks in Android 2.2 and above devices, will enable you to watch movies anywhere you go. It also enables you to “pin” movies so you can watch movies offline, just like offline caching in Google Music, although “pinning” a movie restricts watching the movie in devices other than the one you have pinned to. But both do sound bit disappointing when Google was widely expected to launch a full-blown music streaming service.

We also have editorial about that written up pretty soon, so stay tuned.

Fourth: Android @ Home

Labyrinth controlled by... Droid (not the robot, but the phone)?

For more, click here.

Google also showed off its Android @ home framework. It’s basically Google version of “Made for iPod/iPhone/iPad,” with Google’s SDK giving accessory manufacturers to fully integrate accessories into Android devices. One cool example was the exercise machine. It connected to Android phone to launch an app created by the manufacturer of the exercise machine, and even went on to launch a simple game with a helicopter rising and falling based on your exercise pace (really addicting, if you say so). Hopefully, we get to see a lot more of those cool examples actually becoming products. Maybe something like this, but for Android?

Of course, with Android already being a toy for all the DIY hackers and developers, it definitely looks like lot of people will jump on this. Beside, Google definitely seems like it wants to give off SDK for very little cost or even free.

So, What’s Coming Up?

Rumor is that Google will announce more details on Chrome laptops. Perhaps the company will announce a $ 20 a month renting of Chrome laptops, as one rumor suspects. Of course, I think we can expect tomorrow’s keynote and presentation to be bit more Web-oriented and technical, Google having announced everything Android today. But whatever Google reveals tomorrow, we’ll try to keep you guys up to date with the roundup and blog posts as well as editorials. So, stay tuned!

Written by Geek Park

May 10, 2011 at 10:32 PM

Posted in android, ios, LG, smartphones, tablets

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